Grief Timeline and Behaviors – Conclusion

Welcome back for the conclusion of the discussion about grief. My hope for you today is that you find peace in your journey.  Yesterday, I spoke about how grief after loss is normal, that we may go on a roller coaster ride of emotions, that we are not alone – others have gone through the grieving process also, and they are available to help us through ours.

And that is a key point right there. Grief recovery is a process. It occurs in stages or waves, and if we can stay present for those changed emotions, we can recover more quickly.

Let’s look at our emotional landscape… when we experience grief, we may be breathless, unable to catch our breath due to the shock and disbelief. We will likely be angry and either target it at someone/something specific, or generally be angry at the world, at God. We may feel guilty, worthless, and depressed, alternated with calm and peace. This is quite normal.

Our release of emotions may include weeping, wailing, sobbing, and we may isolate ourselves. In our physical landscape, we may be experiencing lethargy, physical numbness, aches and pains. Our sleeping and eating patterns may change; we may feel general malaise and fatigue.

All of these things are normal, and we can take the best care of ourselves that we can throughout our changing emotional and physical status.

We may find ourselves getting to a point where we enjoy a portion(s) of our lives and this does not deny our loss and grief. I think the important thing to realize is that we get through grief more quickly if we feel our feelings, if we allow them to surface and be acknowledged. Then, if we get stuck, we can do things to get unstuck. What can we do to get unstuck, you may ask?

First, we can reach out. Reach out to friends, family, to spiritual leaders, to clergy, to teachers, medical community, our personal social circle. Second, we can risk examining our stuck behaviors. This takes courage and we can acknowledge that courage. We can talk to those who are not stuck.

Third, we can make this a year of “yes,” giving ourselves permission to move forward and act. We can take one step, one baby step, and we can live life fully, to the best of our ability. Fourth, we can move, exercise. This produces endorphins, the feel-good chemical in our brain. And fifth, we can write a letter to the person or thing with which we grieve, talking through any unfinished business.

In fact, writing, and especially printing with the non-dominat hand, will bring out emotions more quickly and we can pass through them as we write about them. Throughout the process, we find our purpose and we eventually gain peace with our grief. We find our purpose, and we find acceptance.

What are you grieving about? What do you discover about your feelings, your beliefs, when you write about your grief? How does it feel when you reach acceptance? Have you reached it yet? Leave a comment and let us know how you are coping with your grief.

 

 

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Getting Through Grief After a Divorce – Conclusion

Hello, again. We are talking about getting through our grief after we have left a marriage or were left. Either way, there is loss and grief.

Perhaps the most useful tool I can recommend is to write about your thoughts and feelings with your non-dominant hand. I recommend you print, rather than write script. Printing is easier. I did this, printed with my left hand, and all sorts of deep emotions surfaced that I was then able to look at and process. I began to get through my grief more quickly and identified some feelings I didn’t even know I had.

There are stages to grief that are defined in the literature. For example, Elisabeth Kublar-Ross believes there are five stages that we go through. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We go from one to the other, not necessarily in order, and we may stay for a brief time in one, or a long period of time. We often jump back and forth from one to the other until we finally reach acceptance and gain some peace.

It is all individual and we cannot compare our grieving process to anyone else’s, nor should we allow others to compare us to someone, or a “norm.” There is no norm. There is only what is in our own heart. I believe it helps to understand these stages, as we are then prepared for what we might experience and we can put words to our feelings.

Another train of thought is suggested in the book The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Edition, by John W. James and Russell Friedman. They do not believe in stages, and state grief is a totally individual experience and cannot be placed into any stage or box. I highly recommend getting and reading this book, and doing the writing exercises.

These exercises are designed to get us to understand how we deal with grief, as the first step. Generally, we mirror what we saw when we were growing up. Often, that was the belief that we need to get over it, grieve alone, be strong… These beliefs are detrimental to our grief recovery. Instead, we can adopt the beliefs and attitudes that having feelings of sorrow, anger, and even guilt are natural occurrences when we experience a divorce.

To get through these, John and Russell walk the reader of their book through a process that identifies all the losses in one’s life, written on a timeline. Then, they have us look at all our important relationships in which there is unfinished business, also on a timeline. The loss of a divorce will most likely coincide with feelings about the person from whom we are divorced. Again, I urge you to get the book and do the program that is outlined.

After a divorce, there is often bitterness and anger. We can help to get through these by first recognizing what is underneath it. Perhaps there is hurt, fear we are not good enough, fear that there is something wrong with us. We may feel anger for abuse we received. We may feel guilty for things we said or did.

To deal with the anger, I found doing a self-appraisal to identify the things I did to bring the marriage to a bad place was of paramount importance. I discovered, for example, several things I did and said that brought the marriage to its demise. I also did not speak up for myself, so invited verbal abuse agaiin and again. Then, I played the victim, a role I played so others would feel sorry for me. I did this all unconsciously, of course, but I discovered it when I did an appraisal.

How about you? When you take a look at yourself and stop blaming the other person, what do you see? We all will find something or other that we did or did not do, that we are not proud of, that was detrimental to the marriage. We need to own those things, recognize we did the best we could at the time, and forgive ourselves. Then, we can find compassion for the other person and forgive them as well.

This does not happen overnight; it is a process that takes time and focus, a continual returning to exploration. Over time, though, we will find we have gotten through our grief, mainly because we allowed ourselves to feel our sorrow, and from that, the process of healing occurred.

I wish you well in your recovery from a divorce and hope that you gain peace from the experience. Take what was learned to the next relationship, which will be more whole and complete than the last, simply because you allowed yourself to heal and to gain insight of your behaviors from the past marriage. I wish you well.

 

 

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